Sunday, July 18, 2010

Son of the Morning by Linda Howard ****

I read this book and reviewed it almost 2 years ago, and today I finished it on audio book. So, here's my original review, and then I'll comment on the audio book:

from August 2008

Here's another of my subjective 4 star books - it's Linda Howard, it's an AAR Top 100 - I liked it ok, so maybe it should have been 3 stars but... I'm so wishy-washy because I liked it more than "average" or "mediocre"!

The story involves Grace St. John - an average woman with a good career, a loving husband, and a loyal brother, who loses it all in one evening when she realizes she is inadvertently caught up in the enormous power struggle between Good and Evil. She translates ancient documents for a living, for a Foundation that is Evil - "Lucifer thou Son of the Morning" is the quote from the Bible, I believe. The Foundation Director is the current embodiment of All Things Evil, and he is looking for documents Grace has in her possession that will help him locate the source of the power he seeks.

The documents in question were written by the Guardian in the 14th century - a Guardian who, while not the embodiment of All Things Good, is the person charged with protecting the Big Secret. Or Secrets. He's the last of the Knights Templar and he has the relics and the documents hidden in his Scottish castle. The Big Secret includes (or is?) the recipe for time travel, and once Grace starts working on translating it while on the lam from the Foundation Director, she begins to dream of the Guardian.

Grace is truly a wonderful heroine - she's really all things good, and normal, and average, until she witnesses the murder of her husband and brother by the Director. Then she is all things cunning and wary - she uses her considerable skills in reasoning and translation and problem-solving, and turns them into street-smarts to avoid being caught. For a year.

Several reviewers have remarked that the book really does have 2 heroes - one is her wonderful husband, who died lying to the Director, protecting her so that Grace wouldn't be caught. In all her thoughts and all the flashbacks, he is loyal, and loving, and her true soulmate. The other hero is the Guardian himself, Niall - who shares Grace's dreams. Literally.

When Grace finishes translating the documents, she decides that to avenge her brother's and husband's deaths, she must do whatever it takes to keep the Director from getting whatever it is Niall is guarding. The documents she has only point to where the Treasure is. Grace follows the recipe for Time Travel and shows up in Niall's world to move the Treasure so that the Director won't find it.

There was a lot of anguish and heartache in the story - the deaths at the beginning, her year of hiding from the police and the Director, having to use all her wiles to find underground employment, to remain disguised and hidden. The Director was truly a bad, bad man - evil in every possible way. Niall, the medieval Scots warrior, was also bigger than life - tall, big, possibly immortal - although he wasn't All Things Good or the least saintly, he was alpha to the max. I had a hard time buying the concept that Grace would be enough Woman for him after his exploits, I'm afraid - even if she was supposed to be his match. He just didn't strike me as true soulmate material.

But hey - another one on the AAR Top 100 checked off the list. I might manage it this year after all, if I can veer away from glomming more Linda Howard and Nora Roberts and - hey, I need to read more Jennifer Crusie, and I have a couple more Jo Goodmans to go, and...

Sooo many romances, so many bills to pay that require me to work instead of read 24/7...

OK the audiobook. Well, while I still feel the book is around 4 stars, I think the audio is closer to 3 stars. The narrator is ok, but either she has an odd way of speaking or the audio itself is off. Every word, every sentence,there's a sort of mini-explosion or elevation of sound and then it backs off, like her opening consonant is loud but the rest of the word is soft. After a while, I got used to it, even though it did continue all the way through. Maybe the microphone was off, I dunno. Plus she had a sort of quaver in her voice when it was dramatic that I really found annoying. But her voices were good, and different, so she wasn't awful - just not great. Plus, after listening to Davina Porter narrating the Outlander series, while this narrator's Scots accent was pretty darn good, I cringed when she said pronounced plaid to rhyme with "add" instead of "aid" the way Porter says it.

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